“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir
Recently, my family went on our annual camping trip with friends. Typically, I start preparing well in advance, but this year, I ran out of time. I got overwhelmed and stressed out by an unrealistic to do list in the days leading up to our trip. Rather than staying calm and enjoying the experience of getting away for a few days, I let my busy schedule control my emotions. I stopped my daily meditation practice and was solely focused on getting as many items as possible crossed off my to do list before we left. All the self-induced stress and tension left me with a terrible headache that began as we were leaving and continued to grow worse as the day progressed into night – even after we had arrived at the campsite.
When I awoke the next morning, it was a new day. I got up to the sounds of ducks quacking on the lake, the sun shining into my tent, blue skies above and the happy sounds of kids excited to be outdoors. There was a tiny remnant of the headache from the night before, but as I immersed myself in the new day and my beautiful surroundings, the headache was quickly forgotten, as was all the stress and tension that had caused it. My cell signal had been dropped 10 miles from the campsite, so my phone’s sole functionality was as a camera to capture the magnificent scenery that surrounded us for the rest of the weekend. It was incredibly peaceful and I, along with my entire family, was so relaxed and happy for the next few days. When I returned back home, not only had I forgotten all about my to do list, but I didn’t even look at it for another 2 days. I was much more positive than a few days before and was able to move forward without the stress and tension that had consumed me just days earlier.
Why am I sharing this story? Because there is something about nature that is very healing – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Regardless of the challenges we face, nature can provide incredible therapy that is not easily replicated in the man-made world of concrete, buildings and structures. By immersing ourselves in nature, we return back to our roots as human beings, remembering that there is a natural order to all things if we allow it. In this natural order, we find hope and positivity. If you follow Connect4Hope’s social media pages or receive our newsletter, you see us sharing images and videos of nature for this specific reason. While nothing can replace the benefits of being physically present in nature, just looking at a natural scene has the positive effect of soothing us, relieving stress and reducing anxiety.
Not all of us have the luxury of camping every weekend (nor do many people want to), but regardless of where we live, there are many different ways we can take advantage of the healing benefits of nature on a daily basis. Here are just a few:
If you have a yard, even a very small one, do some work in it. Plant a small garden in your yard or pots of plants on a terrace. Grow some herbs and vegetables, even if its one or two plants on a windowsill. Hang up a bird house or a bird feeder.
Appreciate Nature’s Beauty
Leave all your electronic devices behind and sit in your yard or go for a walk in a nearby park. Notice the different trees, plants and flowers. Observe the birds chirping, the insects flying amongst the flowers and squirrels and other animals running around. Lie on the ground and notice the clouds in the sky and their rapidly changing shapes. Take off your socks and shoes and walk directly on the earth.
Make the Mundane Come Alive
Observe the trees and plants on your daily drive – trees and plants that you drive by everyday, but have probably never truly seen before. Notice the beauty and shade they provide and be grateful for their gifts.
Bring Nature Indoors
Add indoor plants to your home. (Not only will indoor plants help you connect with nature, but many have the added benefit of cleaning the air in your home.) Place a small fountain in your home to hear the constant sound of running water, similar to a babbling brook. Hang pictures of nature on your walls. Start a collection of natural items, such as pinecones or seashells to display in your house.
It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we recognize that nature is all around us just waiting for us to reconnect. Once we make this association and invite nature back into our lives, we can benefit by replacing stress and anxiety with the positivity and hope that nature provides.
What do you do to maintain a strong connection with nature?
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